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The best place to begin your research will depend on the topic you are researching, and the type of information you need.
Books are useful if you want a broad overview of a subject, or an in-depth survey, or if you're writing on a historical topic where the facts have not changed a huge amount over time. The information in books is often not as current as that in journal articles because of the length of time it takes to write and publish a book.
Articles are usually much narrower in scope than books, and have current information and up-to-date discussion of a topic. They are not so helpful if you need background information (although review articles that summarize recent research can be very useful).
Scholarly journal articles (and books) are peer-reviewed by other scholars and cite other scholarly sources.
Popular articles (e.g. in magazines and newspapers) are not peer-reviewed and are not as reliable as scholarly academic sources.
Web sites can provide good information including statistics, primary sources, opinions, and references to scholarly sources. However, it is very important to look carefully for information about the author and purpose of a Web site in order to evaluate its reliability.
Barnard Library, your one-stop-shop for all your library, research and information needs